YORKSHIRE has been hailed a ‘leading tourist destination’ on an international scale after a new visitor survey of the region’s most popular attractions was published.
The figures by VisitEngland showed Yorkshire attracted a four per cent rise in visitors overall at the region’s various tourist attractions in 2013, compared to the previous year.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Overall, our attractions have performed well nationally yet again in 2013, which is great news for Yorkshire tourism. The same year also saw a record 35 per cent rise in international spend across Yorkshire, with visits up 11.7 per cent too – all of which shows Yorkshire is now a leading destination not just nationally, but internationally.”
The survey also outlined the most popular – and least popular – visitor attractions.
Taking the top spot for Yorkshire in 2013 was Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire. The theme park and zoo had the highest number of visitors, with over 1.5 million flocking to the site.
The National Railway Museum in York came was second on the list, attracting an impressive 931,000 people through its doors in 2013 – a 30 per cent rise from the previous year.
Meanwhile the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield had 800,844 visitors and the Rother Valley Country Park in Rotherham attracted 680,000 people. Leeds Art Gallery was the most visited in the Leeds area with 453,000 visitors. The popular venue has been consistently in its visitors numbers, attracting similar crowds since 2009.
A stand-out figure in this year’s report was Lotherton Hall, where visitor numbers have more than quadrupled since 2009. Kirkstall Abbey has also enjoyed an increase in visitors by 93 per cent in the past five years.
John Roles, head of Leeds Museums and Galleries, said: “It really is fantastic to that so many people are taking the opportunity to see us.”
The VisitEngland figures were not all good news though, with Yorkshire being home to one of the least visited attractions.
Wakefield’s Gissing Centre, dedicated to Victorian writer George Gissing, was the fifth least visited tourist attraction in the whole of England, with just 118 visitors last year.
However, the centre is run entirely by volunteers and is only open two hours a week, or by prior appointment. Patricia Colling, secretary of the Gissing Trust said: “It’s small – one room in a house. It’s not a day trip, it’s a place to pop in, have a quick look and discover Yorkshire’s best kept literary secret.”
Royal Armouries numbers have also fallen by 20 per cent since 2009, with officials blaming Government funding cuts.
A spokesman said: “We face the challenge of building those numbers up again.”
Harewood House numbers have also fallen by 23 per cent in the last five years.
Christopher Ussher, chief executive at Harewood House Trust, said: “The Tour de France has provided a platform for great things to come.
“We’re looking ahead to reversing the trend.”